Karin woke to the noise of a sniffling sound next to her. Her husband didn't hear it or if he did, he didn't wake to the task. Their common son had these nightmares all the time and they'd silently agreed that she would take care of little Yuri when he came to their bed room, all beside himself.
It wasn't that rare either. Lately, these nights had become even more frequent.
So Karin, no, Anne as her name was now and here, quietly stood and did what she always did; gently take the young boy's hand and lead him outside, sit with him until he calmed down (somehow the moon had that effect on him and she dearly hoped the sky was clear tonight), take him back to bed and hope for a remaining night's good rest.
So there they were; sitting on the porch, looking at a - blissfully - cloudless sky, only slightly shivering in the cool autumn air.
"The monsters were there..", Yuri suddenly began, unaware of his mother's flinching. "They told me weird stuff..."
"It's just a dream, Yuri. No need to worry", Karin tried, but the boy's eyes looked kind of distanced, as if staring at something far away. She followed his gaze, but couldn't pinpoint what he saw. Then he looked at her, his eyes a burning darkred, as they fixated on his mother, seemingly trying to figure something out. He probably wasn't successful, cause after a moment, he once again stared straight forward.
It were moments like these, when Karin knew he was the same person she'd met all these years ago (or to be?*) in that old church in Domremy. Which he, in fact, was. Circumstances had taken a weird turn, when a madman had warped time and space and she'd been sent here in place of his original mother. what happened to the others of their party, she couldn't know. About the older self of her son, who at that time was a member of that party, she hoped he'd somehow gotten rid of the curse that would've consumed his whole identity. Or, at least, her being here would change events so he wouldn't contract it in the first place - after all, she wouldn't be there for him to be stabbed by the holy mistletoe in her place. Without her being there for Nicolai Conrad, it also was unlikely the man would get that item to begin with. Karin knew she'd been the trigger to all these horrible events that had befallen her now-son in the future (which was a long gone world by now) and really hoped he was fine now.
Karin knew of her fate as well and had decided to ignore the fact she'd probably be dead in a few months to come - originally, Yuri's mother had passed on when he'd just turned ten years and his birthday was approaching quickly - and tried not to think about how ironic this whole setup was. At least she knew when it would happen. Yuri - the older self of his - only knew he'd die soon. Not when, not how, only as a matter of fact.
Same Yuri had long since stopped crying by now and leaned against her side, silent as a graveyard.
Then he spoke, again, in his voice that was much too serious for a boy his age:
"Mommy, I'm scared. Something terrible will happen.. to you, to daddy, to me.."
"It will be fine, Yuri.. Don't worry so much."
"Nox said it can't be avoided.."
"He isn't real, Yuri"
"Yes he is! As much as you or me! So is the graveyard!"
Now he was upset and Karin knew she'd said something wrong. She tried calming her son down, but he jumped up, facing her, fists clenching. They'd had this discussion countless times by now. Karin, in a desperate attempt to change his fate, had always tried convincing the boy of a bad lie; that the graveyard he saw in his dreams wasn't real. Just that; a bad dream. The monsters he saw? Product of his fantasy. Words they said? Just words.
He wouldn't have any of that though. By sheer instinct he knew she was lying, knew there was more to his dreams than his mother let on. He was destined to become a harmonixer and Karin knew it.
Didn't mean she couldn't keep trying. She was his mother now after all.
"Yuri", she again began but he shook his head and stepped back. Before she could grab his hand, he was already running off into the night, with Karin only slowly catching up. Years of not fighting monsters had dulled her physical state, leaving her much less athletic than she'd been back in the days of her youth, so Yuri gained distance until he'd disappeared in the darkness. He deliberately ignored her calls and it wasn't long until she couldn't even hear his footsteps any longer.
Feeling like she'd failed to protect her son, Karin returned home.
What would she tell Jinpachiro? It was her fault their son had run away. If something happened to him, she wouldn't - couldn't! - forgive herself.
Calling out to her husband would have to wait - the man deserved a peaceful sleep. Soon enough he'd learn of tonight's happenings. Maybe Yuri was back when he woke. Feeling crestfallen, she entered their house, planning to wait for Yuri to return, and took a seat at the kitchen table. There though her gaze fell on a white sheet, neatly folded with her name written on it. Frowning she took it and quickly read it.
I received a call to arms. Will be gone for a few days.
Give the pendant to our son; it's a lucky charm.
Love you both
For a few moments she just stared at the letter, disbelieving what she saw. Nothing had changed.
Then she realised another thing.
She had to go. Now.
With that she threw the paper aside and stormed outside, once again, desperate to find Yuri. She still could change the future; they just had to get away from here. The sooner they were gone the better. She just had to find him.. had to..
"Greetings, Karin", said a voice she'd recognise anywhere. The almost creaky sound of it made her stop in her tracks. Her pulse raced while her breath had stopped.
The man standing in her way was a lot shorter than herself, almost bald, liverspots all over his wrinkly face. The eyes deep inside his skull, arms behind his back, smiling though. He stood slightly bent, age catching up to him at last.
"Roger..", Karin whispered, for a moment not knowing where she knew that name from, but the old man grinned even broader.
"So you at least remember? Good. I will need your assistance, young lady."
The redhaired woman frowned. First of all, it was impossible Roger was here in the first place. This most of all irritated her. She knew the man was a sorcerer and could do the most unbelievable things, but him being here didn't seem right. At this age, he was supposed to.. be.. Finally, it clicked. It still didn't make sense, but somehow it did anyway.
"Where is Yuri..?", Karin asked, her voice barely above the same whisper she'd said his name with.
Roger's smile vanished and he sadly shook his head, making her heart skip another two, three beats at a time. "Such a sad fellow. He doesn't remember who he is. He even believed me when I told him I was his father. The curse did quite a number on him, I'm afraid."
Pictures rushed before her eyes. The field of Takamagahara; the time vortex. Inside the vessel. Everyone had gone to the world they most wished for.. all except her and Yuri. They both had been scared. She had made him promise to find her.. then left him on his own devices. Why hadn't she stayed with him? He'd fought the curse, for all of them. Part of her wished he'd resisted it for her sake alone. The second there was nobody left he'd have to fight for.. he'd given in.
The guilt was unbearable.
Roger watched her with a knowing look in his eyes, then nodded slowly.
"Listen, Karin. It's been three years now. He never recovered his memories. All the time he was living at my place, unable to take up a new way of life. As to why I am here; This old man here can't take care of him anymore. I'm getting weak and senile, forgetful. You are the only one who can snap Yuri out of his .. state. You need to come with me."
"But.. my son..", Karin began, but Roger shook his bald head.
"He will be fine. I.. left a little something back in your home. He will find it and history won't be disturbed. Now come.. we have to hurry."
With that he took her hand and led her away from everything she'd known for a long, long time.